Professional ResponsibilityClass Term:
Fall Term 2020-2021Catalog Number:
3 (3 Contact, 0 Field)Graduation Requirements:
General Enrollment CourseFull Year Course:
In this class we will explore both large philosophical questions and nitty gritty problems that arise in a lawyer’s working life. We will look at diverse and conflicting views of the role of lawyers in society and consider a wide range of questions. What does it mean to be a member of a profession? What does it mean to “represent” a client? What if your client is a corporation? Do lawyers have a responsibility to promote social justice? What limits are there, if any, on a lawyer’s duty to advise clients engaged in conduct that may be dangerous to others? What should you do if you know another lawyer is breaking the law? Suppose you suspect that your client has lied in court? Do you ever have the duty to tell a client her actions are morally wrong? The right to tell her so? What, if any, are the special roles and duties of a government lawyer? Are lawyers expected to be more or less honest than everyone else? How do the economic realities of access to legal representation affect legal ethics? How should they?
Final grades will be based primarily on an open-book, in-class final examination. Consideration will also be given to the quality of students’ participation in class discussions.
This course will cover selected topics on the law governing lawyers. Major topics will include formation and termination of the attorney-client relationship and its attendant obligations, fee issues, conflicts of interest, ethics in advocacy, transactional lawyering, and entity representations, among others. The course will cover these topics from the vantage point of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers, as well as those aspects of Constitutional law, evidence law, agency law, tort law, and procedural rules (both civil and criminal) that bear on an attorney’s obligations to clients, courts, opposing parties and their attorneys, and the legal system at large. Class discussions will incorporate in-depth analysis of case law and the Rules, as well as analysis of practical hypothetical scenarios in which a lawyer seeks advice about his or her legal and ethical options for moving forward in dealing with his or her clients. This course meets the New York professional responsibility requirement. N.Y. Court Rules for Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law Rule 520.3(c)(1)(iii).